Sundown!

Righty ho then, back to writing about what I’ve been up to after not posting owt for a while. First up – Sundown. The beginning of May was the time we said goodbye to the sun for 3 months. On that last day the sun popped its head above the horizon for about an hour and a half and then promptly disappeared, not to be seen again for 105 days.  That’s not to say we went into pitch-black darkness immediately of course, the horizon was a sooty red for a few weeks for a couple of hours in the afternoon, with the light outside being similar to dusk. In fact even now we can see the smoky red line across the horizon just above where the sun should be for a few hours each day – though now we really are in a twenty-four hour night and the stars, if it’s clear and they are visible, are visible all day long.

On the day of the sundown there are a few traditions kept by the winterers at BAS. A speech is given by the oldest member of the wintering team – this year that honour went to Nick, the base heating engineer, and he did great a one, having us all laughing despite not being able to turn the pages due to numb fingers! Nick then had the job of lowering the Union flag that flies above Halley. The flag is fairly well tattered after a season in the Antarctic wind and when the sun comes back again the youngest of us will hoist a new one up the flagpole. We had  a quick toast (and I mean quick, what with both ourselves and our drinks freezing fairly rapidly) and then stuffed our faces – and what better way to say goodbye to the sun, in temps around -40, than by having a barbie!

 

sunset in anarctica

The sun barely making it up above the ice

sunset in anarctica

Sun on it’s way and the flag looking fairly ragged

halley union flag

Yeah, it’s seen better days

sundown speech

Nick impressing us all with his oratory

DSC_0056

Packing up the flag

sunset in anarctica

The sun setting over big red

sunset in anarctica

That’s it. No more sunshine for me for a while.

Wine in antarctica

As I said, gotta drink it quick!

 

Well, it’s been nearly a month now and I really do miss the sun, it’s stranger than I thought living in this permanent night – though  I do actually like it more than the twenty-four hour light of summer – that’s just too weird.  It does feel very spooky looking out over the ice sometimes but, as dark and forbidding as it is looking out across a landscape that is only illuminated  by the stars and the moon, it has to be said it does have it’s good bits too.  There are not too many places where you can poke your head out of the front door in the morning with a coffee in your hand and be greeted by aurora. Or watch shooting stars and the milky way as you go about your business during the day. Moon rises and settings are pretty cool to watch right now, with the moon rising an orangey red colour, almost like a muted sun rise and then slowly turning yellow and then it’s customary bright white as it rises higher in the sky.

One of the most amazing things about being at Halley is the night sky, and we get to see it all the time now. Yeah, I might get seasonally affected disorder or rickets but that’s a small price to pay surely!

Here’s a pic from today of the Moon and Venus taken at one in the afternoon.

moon and venus antarctica

Coming up next: more green skies!

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Global Selfie Planet Earth!

A few weeks (or months -it’s all getting a bit muddled down here without the sun) ago on Earth Day, NASA asked for selfies from people all around the world, saying who and where they were. and I tweeted a picture of me looking all frozen and polar hero-ey. Well, they’ve made a collage of the tens of thousands of pictures they received and turned it into a picture of our planet. Heres a small picture of what they made – it’s pretty impressive but click on the link and you can see the full version where you can zoom in to see the many thousands of photos that make up the whole picture.

Global Selfie-Planet Earth

NASA Global Selfie Planet Earth

I’m somewhere in the far North Atlantic/Arctic Ocean I think, find me by clicking the snapshots button.

Sorry for the lack of posts- bin busy!

As the title says apologies for the lack of blog action lately. It has been incredibly busy down here at Halley for a number of reasons. Firstly work has been pretty full on with tonnes of stuff to do around base. Sometimes it’s quiet, sometimes not – and right now it’s not so I’ve been grafting away like a good un. Then, there is the Race Across Antarctica that I’m glad to say is going well. Going well, but involving doing the equivalent of a marathon everyday for the last 3 weeks! Spending 4 hours in the gym or trotting around on the ice can get a bit exhausting to say the least but it seems to be paying off:

Race Across Antarctica

Race Across Antarctica

Team Halley are well in front as we reach the half way mark and I’m doing pretty good  individually too but there’s a long way to go.

 

T’other thing keeping me busy at the moment is winter gift making. The big celebration of the year at bases all over the continent is Midwinter, given that for most of us Christmas is too busy to really enjoy. One of the traditions is making a gift for someone chosen Secret Santa style. These are generally pretty impressive with a lot of work put in by people, so you can walk round base right now and hear people fettling, filing and sawing away. I’ll post more about this later but right now it’s secret!

 

Plenty of fun stuff gone on lately too with various training exercises and the sun buggering off so I’ll be back posting shortly with some nice pictures and writing and all that!